Give Jewish tourists the vote, Knesset member declares

MK Bezalel Smotrich suggested giving the vote to Jewish tourists who visit for a couple of weeks, saying their trip shows they care about Israel.

By World Israel News Staff

Lawmaker Bezalel Smotrich of the Jewish Home party made a radical suggestion at the Knesset Tuesday during a roundtable discussion about Israel-Diaspora relations, The Times of Israel reported.

“Whoever spends at least two weeks a year in the State of Israel should have the right to vote for the Knesset. I will now propose such a bill. I think this will greatly strengthen the ties between us,” he told U.S. Jewish leaders participating in the annual General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America, which is being held this year in Israel.

“There is no doubt that Israel is a democracy,” Smotrich stated, according to the Times of Israel report. Giving Diaspora Jews the vote “can certainly influence the political landscape here, it could change the outcome of elections, and that’s okay.

Tel Aviv beach

Israelis and tourists enjoy the beach in Tel Aviv, on a hot summer day, July 30, 2018. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

“Only citizens can be elected to the Knesset, but it should be allowed for Jewish tourists to cast a ballot,” he said.

The GA theme this year is about bridging the growing gap between Israeli and Diaspora Jews. Indeed, new Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog, when appointed to the post in June, stated his intention to mend that rift.

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“The relationship between Israel and Jews in the Diaspora has suffered a severe blow over the few past years, and we have to do whatever we can to mend it,” he said at the time.

In an address to the GA conference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, Herzog announced a new initiative in that regard: to teach Hebrew to Jews all over the world in order to find a “common language” with the Diaspora.